Louis C.K. is an example of an entertainer who understands the power of using the internet to boost your career, help your fans and eventually help others in the process. When his very successful indie comedy experiment was finished and he gave away half of what he made, he also invested in some good will. Those who never have heard Louis C.K. before (myself being one) may now be inclined to do so simply because of his great gesture.
Andy Scott, a surviving guitarist for the British glam rock band The Sweet (“Hell Raiser,” “Ballroom Blitz,” “Teenage Rampage”), may perhaps be the polar opposite. His dogged five-year pursuit of a man, who sold one legally purchased CD, is probably going to be known as one of the most dick-headed anti-piracy legal moves ever.
Austrian resident Dietmar Huber decided to sell his CD of The Sweet’s “The Legend Lives On” to a buyer for €1 (one Euro). Scott then slapped him with a bill for €2,000, claiming the CD was not original and was burned off the internet.
Huber was later able to prove that, yes indeed, the CD he sold was original, but Scott not only persisted, he upped the claim to €36,000 (almost $45,000).
Huber fought the charges brought by Scott and his lawyer, Wolfgang Maier, all the way to Austria’s highest court.
The judge threw the book at Scott and his lawyer, ruling that they pay Huber £50,000 (almost €62,000) for hassling him for 5 years. Maier’s statement after the ruling had some unintentional hilarity:
“The end result according to the final court of appeal is that copyright and intellectual property protection in Austria is far short of what it should be.”
Have Scott and Maier ever heard of Ebay, Gemm or independent record shops? Does Scott realize that younger fans turning up at any of his concerts now have probably either downloaded The Sweet songs online or purchased used albums/CDs of theirs? Have they now considered that people may no longer buy music by The Sweet either because they are afraid of getting sued if they ever want to sell their copies, or because they think The Sweet doesn’t deserve support for being such assholes?
It’s long been established in courts that you can resell original items you’ve legally purchased. I don’t know whether Scott should be hated because he chased after one fan for 5 years of legal wrangling over this shit, or pitied because he teamed with a rainbow-chasing lawyer to drag himself and a former top ten band through the PR mud. Either way it makes for an example of how not to react in the wave of copyright reassessment.